The XV World Forestry Congress opened on Monday, 2 May, to a packed agenda. More than 12,500 registered participants from over 140 countries gathered at the COEX convention centre in Seoul, Republic of Korea, and participated online.
In the morning, during an elaborate opening ceremony, participants enjoyed several traditional South Korean cultural performances, and were welcomed by Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea, and other dignitaries. Participants then gathered for a high-level dialogue on the main theme of XV WFC, “Building a green, healthy and resilient future with forests,” which featured leaders from the FAO, the World Bank, and youth and Indigenous representatives.
In a special event, FAO launched the 2022 edition of its flagship State of the Forest report, which points to the need for three mutually reinforcing pathways, namely: halting deforestation and maintaining forests, restoring degraded lands and expanding reforestation, and ensuring sustainable value chains. Other key findings of the report include: the need to enshrine tenure rights; provide incentives, and remove disincentives for forest conservation; and the urgency of addressing the conflict between forest conservation and other development needs.
Later in the afternoon, participants split into six parallel sessions, each focused on a different sub-theme, including: reversing deforestation and forest degradation; nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation and biodiversity conservation; green pathways to growth and sustainability; forests and human health; managing and communicating forest information, data and knowledge; and forests without boundaries: enhancing management and cooperation. These sub-themes will form the basis for four further parallel sessions that will be held throughout the week.
In the evening, a high-level dialogue between the heads of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) agencies, with representatives of Major Groups, addressed forest-based solutions to multiple ongoing crises and conflicts, including climate change, displacement and food insecurity.
Many side events and partner meetings were also held in parallel throughout the day, and an exhibition hall presented stands and information on the conference’s theme.